Friday, August 29, 2008

Seeing What is Right in Front of You - Parshat Re'ei

When I tried think about all of the hidden messages in Parshat Re'ei I couldn't get past the first pasuk. Actually, I couldn't get past the first word. Re'ei - look and see. Why "see"? Why not "listen"? Or, better yet, why anything at all? (See Ohr HaChayim) Let Moshe simply say - הנה אנכי נותן לפניכם - Here, I am putting before you... If it's right here in front of you, won't you see it?

Evidently not.

The first lesson I learned from Parshat Re'ei is that something can be right there in front of you and if nobody tells you to see it you won't. Secondly, seeing involves more than what meets the eye. One has to look at the whole picture - both sides of the coin.

So here, Moshe is telling us that we must see the entire picture. The Bracha and the Kellala. If it's not Bracha it's Kellala. It's not neutral.

Parshat Re'ei is referring us to Parshat Bechukosai. Therefore it says את הברכה . The word את means from Alef to Tav. That is the Bracha that begins with Alef - אם בחקתי תלכו and ends with tav - ואולך אתכם קממיות . The kellala is והקללה from vav to heh. That is the kellala that begins with a vav - ואם לא תשמעו לי and ends with a heh - בהר סיני ביד משה .

Parshat Bechukosai is the premise of my book because it is the main place in the Torah (among numerous others) that most clearly lays down the "terms of the deal". It tells us in 8 words how to live and how to survive and how to succeed.

In 8 words.

If you don't look at it - I mean, really look at it, you don't see it.

I described in a recent post how and when I was enlightened to what it really means. I was over 40 years old! Until then I didn't really see it. Oh, I saw it all right - it was לפניכם - right there in front of me. But all the time, I didn't really see it.

This is the mitzvah of Re'ei - to see, to look, to understand.

Moshe commands us Re'ei. It is a mitzvah like all of the rest. Yet, for some reason, this mitzvah does not meet the criteria to be included in the official list of 613 mitzvos. And because of that, many of us do not see it. We cannot see that it is a mitzvah to see.

Even though it is right in front of us.


G said...


Judaism is primarily predicated on the ear/listening as apposed to the eye/seeing.

I wonder if anybody talks about this divergance from that.

Meishiv K'Halacha said...

Being big on chumash and rashi, you should have noticed rashi says the bracha is specifically not refering to bechukosai, rather har grizim and har eival (see sifsei chachomim, os aleph)

Yechezkel said...

You are right about Rashi. What I am writing is in the Baal HaTurim on 11:27 and is based on the Midrash Rabba in Vayikra 35:1. The Midrash Rabba in Vayikra does not explicitly refer to this pasuk in Devarim but the Baal HaTurim and many other "darshanim" seem to make the connection.

Perhaps we need to say that the pasuk is truly referring to the Boruch and Arrur of har Gerizim and Eival (like Rashi) and the tochacha of Vayikra is being alluded to as a remez.

There is a known rule: אין משיבין על הדרוש :-)